The shtick that stuck

Clint Eastwood's eccentric ad-libs actually carry an important message

It seemed a little goofy at the time. Maybe a guy who’s used to working from a script should have done so – especially at a political convention where everything is scripted.


But more than a week after concerned
conservatives were wondering if it had been
a net-plus, actor Clint Eastwood’s quirky,
extemporaneous performance at the Republican National Convention has taken on a life of its own. Still.

His shtick – talking to an empty chair purporting to be an invisible Obama – has become iconic, an Internet sensation. It’s inspired political artwork and Photoshopped pictures of other empty chairs. They even held a National Empty Chair Day, in which people put a chair – embellished however they liked – in front of their homes.

And like almost everything today, it’s been turned into a verb: “Eastwooding.”

The beloved actor and former mayor of Carmel, Calif., acknowledges he improvised his remarks – and only thought of the chair routine in the moments before taking stage.

He also admits not being much of a speech-maker.

The thing is, though, if he’d had a prepared script and hit it out of the park, it might have been quickly forgotten. But because his appearance was so eccentric and ad lib, it’s become the sensation it is.

Critics panned his performance mercilessly. And, indeed, it stood out as halting in an otherwise tightly wound series of speeches. But again, others have drawn inspiration from it.

The only one not talking about it has been Eastwood. Until now.

“President Obama is the greatest hoax ever perpetrated on the American people,” he told his hometown Carmel Pine Cone. “I had three points I wanted to make. That not everybody in Hollywood is on the left, that Obama has broken a lot of the promises he made when he took office, and that the people should feel free to get rid of any politician who’s not doing a good job.”

In addition, his plain-spoken edict that “you, we – we own this country” stands in sharp contrast to the Democratic message this past week that “Government is the only thing that we all belong to.”

Which vision do you accept? That we own the country, or that we belong to it?

We know what Clint Eastwood thinks, anyway.



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